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Part of the company's urban-focused luggage range, the Altura Thunderstorm City 20 Pannier delivers fully waterproof load-carrying capability in a smart and durable package, with good commuter features. It could lend itself to a spot of touring, too, though it is a bit pricey.
One of the first things you notice about this pannier, other than the fact that it actually looks quite smart, is that it nicely straddles the line of rugged and protective without tipping over into heavy. The TPU-coated polyester fabric screams durability but the pannier itself isn't going to add too much to the on-bike weight.
With a 20-litre capacity, it has commuter-focused features rather than touring – it's fully waterproof with a roll-top closure to keep out the rain, has reflective accents all over it to maximise visibility, a padded laptop sleeve built into the structure inside, plus a zipped interior pocket, sleeve pocket and key loop.
It attaches with a robust and high quality R&K Klickfix mechanism. Designed to fit pretty much any gauge of rack tubing, it's simply a case of adjusting the hooks at the top as per the clear instructions. It's also possible to get a separate insert for larger tubing. Adjusting its position is quick and easy too, and the bag is secure and stable once fitted.
One particularly pleasing feature is the push-button release, making it a superfast job to fit and remove the bag, once all the initial fitting has been set up. The grab loop makes it easy to carry and there are loops if you want to add your own carry strap.
The roll-top fastens with an unusual but simple strap with hook and daisy-chain. This suggests greater longevity than many, as there's no complex buckle to break, which can be a weak point on this sort of pannier.
It's a defiantly waterproof bag, offering really good protection from the weather, with sealed seams as well as that TPU-coated fabric.
The laptop sleeve is big enough for devices up to 15in and the padding is pretty decent, while the stiffened back panel gives extra confidence in its protective abilities.
As well as the various reflective bits and bobs, there are also tabs both sides of the bag for attaching lights. And if you want more visibility, the pannier is also available in high-vis yellow as well as the black.
Despite the fact that this is aimed at the commuter market, I'd be happy taking it touring too – the additional weight of the pannier itself isn't a deal breaker, and its waterproof and rugged build make it ideal for long days of inclement travel.
In terms of price, the Altura does sit towards the top end for panniers of this sort of size. It's £10 more than the slightly larger (24l) and slightly heavier (1.1kg on our scales) touring-tuned Vaude Aqua Back Pannier, which Emma reviewed as a pair back in 2018, and it's roughly twice the price of the Oxford Aqua V20, though being quite stiff and a basic open space design, the Oxford is a little less versatile.
In terms of quality and features, the Altura is comparable to Thule's Shield Pannier, but again it's still a bit more expensive as those are £131 for the pair – and bigger.
Ultimately, the Altura is an excellent bag, and though it is quite expensive I would still recommend it – it's extremely easy and convenient to use, with confidence-inspiring protection and good urban-friendly features. Being lighter than many waterproof panniers also makes it an attractive proposition for occasional touring use, adding to its value.
A really well-considered design that delivers excellent performance
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Altura Thunderstorm City 20 Pannier
Size tested: 20 Litres
Tell us what the product is for and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
It's aimed at urban cyclists wishing to transport office gear, including a laptop, in safety.
Altura says, 'Commute in confidence with this reflective, waterproof and highly durable pannier. Featuring the KLICKfix™ Universal rail fitting system, it attaches easily to any bike rack, clicking on and off in seconds for high-speed commuting.
'The Thunderstorm City Pannier is certified waterproof to level IPX6 thanks to its polyester two tone material with TPU coating. Combined with sealed seams, it means you can ride to work on the wettest days of the year with confidence. The roll-top closure provides extra security against the elements, while giving you flexible carrying capacity - maxing out at 20 litres per pannier.'
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Fully waterproof to level IPX6
360° reflective details
Welded seam construction
Roll top closure
KLICKfix™ Universal rail fittings
Protective inner organiser sleeve fits 15in laptop
Internal zip pocket and key loop
LED attachment points
10kg weight limit inc. pack and contents (each pannier)
Dimensions: 40 x 34 x 15 cm
Extremely well made using high quality components and materials.
Very easy to use and very effective.
Thanks to the hook fastening and high quality materials, there is little to go wrong. This should last years.
It's not the lightest, but it's far from being a heavyweight, particularly when compared with some other waterproof panniers.
It's expensive compared with most, but for what you get here in terms of quality and design, I think it's worth the money.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Very well indeed. Fast and easy to fit and remove, and very protective.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Rugged, waterproof, reflective.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Nothing really, it's a well-featured and well-made bag, just a bit on the expensive side.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
The Altura sits towards the top end for panniers of this sort of size. We reviewed the touring-tuned Vaude Aqua Back Panniers back in 2018 and they're now £130 for the pair, though £70 each. The Altura is roughly twice the price of the Oxford Aqua V20, though I'd say that is less versatile for possible touring use in addition to commuter duties. In terms of quality and features, the Altura is pretty comparable to Thule's Shield Pannier, but again it's still quite a bit more expensive, as those are £131 for the pair.
It is cheaper than both the Brooks Scape Panniers – and Chrome Industries' Urban Ex Pannier is £140.
Did you enjoy using the product? Very much.
Would you consider buying the product? Definitely
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your overall score
It's an excellent bag – well designed and well made, ideal for urban use and the odd bit of touring, though it is just a bit on the pricey side.
About the tester
I usually ride: Liv Invite My best bike is: Specialized Ruby Elite
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, touring, sportives, general fitness riding, mtb,
Lara has been riding bikes for longer than she'd care to admit, and writing about them nearly as long. Since 2009 she has been working as part of the road.cc review team whilst championing women's cycling on the side, most notably via two years as editor of the, sadly now defunct, UK's first and only women's cycling mag, erm, Women's Cycling.
Believing fervently that cycling will save the world, she wishes that more people would just ride a bike and be pleasant to each other.
She will ride anything with two wheels, occasionally likes to go fast, definitely likes to go far and is always up for a bit of exploring somewhere new and exciting.